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Monday, February 29, 2016

Wednesday's storm shifts slightly north again and the results are not especially exciting.

Another day and another potential storm makes a critical northward shift. Though with this upcoming Wednesday storm, the shift is not as dramatic, the consequences sing a familiar tune including less snow and more sleet and freezing rain. At least the mild weather Monday will give way to a stretch of subfreezing temperatures that should persist through the first full weekend in March. Beyond that, some troubling signs are emerging.

Here is the situation with Wednesday. The storm is a garden variety weather system which will organize Tuesday in the Ohio Valley and head northeastward. Like many of its predecessors, this is a storm that could have provided much of the Vermont ski country with a nice 8-14 but this was predicated on a storm track over central New England. Once again, the forecasted storm track has shifted slightly north so that the center of the storm moves over southern Vermont. It was a subtle and seemingly small shift but we had little room to play with as indicated in the last update. The result still includes a few inches of snow early Wednesday morning followed by a period of sleet and freezing rain around daybreak. The best precipitation with this storm however will be over Quebec and southeast Ontario. From the standpoint of snowfall, it is typically problematic to be too close to the center of central lowest pressure. In the parlance of "weather geek speak" it is the "shaft zone" but the simpler scientific description would be to call it the "dry slot".  By midday Wednesday morning, I think much of central Vermont including MRG is precipitation-free. Later in the day, some minimal wrap around moisture could allow for some snowfall but I wouldn't expect much more than an inch. Overall the storm is another dud; 2-5 inches of snow and ice and more ice farther south and more snow farther north.

What is with these northward shifts, they are killing us ? No doubt. Actually sometimes the "northward shift" brings snowfall when we expect nothing. In early March 2001, there was a conventional wisdom in the forecasting community of a big snowstorm for the big east coast cities and partly cloudy for Vermont. 5 days later, northern Vermont was putting the finishing touches on a 50-70 inch dump. This year however, we have seemingly been the focal point for a bunch of argumentative weather situations and about lost every one. The ice-free and relatively warm Great Lakes has been a major problem here. They are pulling some of these weather systems northward and the models are having a tough time resolving all of this until very late in the forecasting game.

The end of the week we will be spat on as another Mid-Atlantic storm deposits snowfall well south of us. This storm could also make a northward jump late, and it may do so, but it would have to move about 300 miles farther north for Vermont to get the good snowfall. Instead, we are expecting dry and cold in the period beginning Thursday and ending Saturday. On Sunday, the polar jet, will start to recede but may deliver one last clipper system before doing to which could result in some snowfall though models don't agree on that as of yet.

What models do agree on now is a March thaw which will commence around March 8th and continue for several days. The European was teasing us with a total capitulation of winter for several days though it has backed off somewhat this morning. What seems likely is that winter makes a substantial retreat and the minimal Vermont snowpack is once again dented. It does seem possible that a stormier pattern emerges by the middle of March with a return to more seasonable temperatures around March 12th-14th but there are no indications of glaring cold weather support. The thaw should peak out around March 10th and 11th and could include readings in the 60's for a day or two.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Looking into March and our last chance to make something out of what has been very little

Friday was the 7th straight day of bad news so I decided to wait one extra day for an update. Finally on the 8th day some better news. "Better" is of course the more relative term as opposed to the categorical  "good" or "great". "Better" in this case does mean some snow and an improved outlook for the later part of the upcoming week.

The northern most part of New England is perhaps the only place on the east coast to escape the thrust of milder weather which already encompasses most of the eastern seaboard. Mad River Glen interestingly, sits right on the boundary of winter and spring on Sunday. By the end of the day, temperatures will creep above the freezing mark but travel south 100 miles and readings will be way up in to the 50's. Travel north 50 miles and readings might stay in the 20's. There is some snow associated with the boundary and a garden variety storm system which is expected to travel too far to our north for any significant snows. Milder air does eventually push into the northern half of the state Monday and some brief period of rain is possible ahead of the approaching cold front early in the day.

The aforementioned boundary will continue to be the focal point for weather activity as the week progresses but it looks like, as of late Saturday, that this activity will be of the more frozen type. Cold weather pushes back into the region, just barely on Tuesday and a storm system will gather strength in the Ohio Valley and make a northeastward push. Once again, its close, one again, a slight northward shift and we get shafted yet again. As of now though the storm is projected to move from Pennsylvania to somewhere close to the New Hampshire seacoast. This track has the mountain mostly snow, perhaps one of the better ones of the year but I want to be careful here. This also is a garden variety system, we have mostly struck out on these as well this winter but we have a chance to score a decent 8-14 inch hit on this one but it's not etched in stone.

Cold air settles into the region late in the week allowing for a few days with potentially powdery surfaces. There is a formidable southern branch storm which threatens the Carolinas and portions of the Mid Atlantic Friday but looks to be another miss for New England. The weekend to follow simply looks dry and chilly to start and dry and seasonable to finish which in early March typically means that temperatures can sneak above the freezing mark during the afternoons.

There is dissension in the ranks of medium range models with how the weather plays out after March 8th. The European and it's ensembles is suggesting an all out capitulation and lots of spring-like warmth. We would lose all the support from the important teleconnection indices such as the AO and PNA and after a winter such as this, the season would be in dire straights. Both the Canadian and American ensembles agree on a gradual trend toward milder weather but keep some of the fundamentals supporting a cold pattern in place, including the AO and PNA. The European has struggled this winter and the MJO forecast of phases is relatively clear in its support for a weaker Pacific jet through about March 15th so I am inclined to think we can keep winter alive after the European is hypothetically killing it. Hard to be optimistic given our recent turn of events but I think that is a reasonable view based on data available right now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rain should be over by early Thursday but major snowfall remains more than a week away

Still struggling to find good news for the 5th straight day. It's quite astounding actually; and speaking sentimentally, I am about ready to take this season straight to the latrine same as about everyone else. After the nearly inch of rain Wednesday night, a break in the precipitation can be expected for Thursday though temperatures will remain above freezing for most of the day. Snow rotates back into the region late Thursday night and continues through early Friday. We can expect 2-5 inches along with a return to sub-freezing temperatures but can't promise much more than that.

Our negative news relates to the period beginning Saturday and ending Tuesday. We have two different weather systems perfectly capable of delivering snow to Vermont in this time frame and both appear to lack the necessary tools to invigorate the jet stream in spite of larger scale variables that would seem to encourage such occurrences. System 1 was a clipper that we expected would provide the delivery of some serious cold. It is now expected to do the proverbial "face plant" in Quebec. We expect minimal snow on Saturday but the anticipated surge of cold weather may never arrive leaving us literally undefended in advance of Monday's system which contains modest amounts of Pacific moisture.

The weather system in question for Monday will travel anywhere between central New England and the St Lawrence Valley. This is a critical range of possibilities but the trend has not been our friend over the last two days. The consensus as of midday Wednesday was for this system to track near the VT-Canadian border and thus keeping the mountain in the mild air on the last day of February - the leap year day. If this system takes a more southern trajectory then we can expect a modest snowfall, but as is, it is another minimal event with most of the snow falling as a light accumulation Tuesday night.

There still is potential with a storm at the end of next week though models have again run the gamut on how this might play out. The American GFS, normally unreliable this far out, has been hinting at another snow--> rain event. It has made some nice calls but both major ensemble aggregates are more encouraging. It is admittedly very difficult to be in an encouraging mood with anything put forth by the forecast models. Still, the pattern, as it looked a few days ago, still appears favorable for the next two weeks.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A week full of promise completely disintegrates while another week of promise emerges

Has the news gotten any better. No, it certainly has not; in fact, it appears as if there will be some insult to the already injured. The excitement started about a week ago with a storm which threatened to bring snow to even parts of the Mid-Atlantic. Now, we expect the big weather system to track up through Ohio and across the eastern Great Lakes. This is nothing short of a debauchery, fitting in well with much of the rest of the winter season so far in Vermont. There are some positives in the outlook, but its admittedly difficult to not drink the cynics kool-aid at this point. We will outline as many details as we can nonetheless and keep at it until we can't keep at it anymore.

After a chilly Tuesday, a wave of low pressure well ahead of the passage of the much stronger low pressure center will spread precipitation into the region Tuesday night. Some of this will actually be snow and a few inches of that mixed in with some sleet is the expectation by Wednesday morning. Temperatures will hover within a few degrees of freezing during most of the day Wednesday. Freezing drizzle and light freezing rain is likely for a time but as the low pressure center intensifies and travels up past the Ohio Valley, temperatures will nudge above the freezing mark in many areas and precipitation will become mostly rain and intensify. The heaviest of the rain falls Wednesday night into early Thursday along with temperatures in the low 40's.

Terrain enhanced snow showers and bursts of some heavy snow are still possible particularly early Friday but I am disappointed even with how this is evolving. I was hopefully that the storm, even with its lousy track, would be kind enough to stall in the Canadian maritimes. It will move at a slow pace but continue to travel northeast and thus limiting the opportunity for terrain induced snows. Still, 3-6 inches across the high country is still possible even as valley locations stay strike out.

A clipper system advances southeastward fast on Saturday bringing with it some arctic chill. The track of this storm has also shifted northward according to the most recent model indications and the limited moisture associated with this storm may very well stay north of the Canadian border. Still, we should see some additional snows even if it only amounts to a few fluffy inches.

The good news involves the outlook for next week. In spite of drowning in a sea of bad news, the pattern remains generally conducive for new snow. There is a weak upper ridge which is positioned in western North America and this is expected to strengthen and evolve into a large scale block at high latitudes allowing the Arctic Oscillation to advance well into negative territory. The MJO meanwhile is expected to support a weakened Pacific jet stream. These types of developments normally conspire to produce wonderful results but I don't think any powder lovers are feeling too optimistic. Models are indicating decent chances for snow on 2 occasions next week; one at the beginning of the week from a Pacific system and another potentially big storm at the end of the week that could yet again track anywhere.                          

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Bad news explained and what we can hope for from here

The evolving forecast for the upcoming week calls for another update. This is an extremely promising setup that includes what is generally a rather favorable pattern for snow but expectations have taken another bad turn today and can't be ignored or sugarcoated. This has been a year dominated by a strong El Nino and this particular ENSO event has not treated Vermont well at all.

As late as early Saturday morning, there was some loose consensus for a rather positive outcome. Indications, particularly from the European Ensemble mean showed a storm track short of optimal but still upwards of a foot or more of snow by the end of the week. There was dissension amongst the ranks however with the GFS American model tracking northeastward moving storm through New York state while the Canadian was close to optimal with a coastal track not far from Cape Cod. The Canadian has performed horribly however while the GFS (in spite of my criticism) has shown an ability this winter to nail a few trends ahead of its competitors. This may be one of those cases unfortunately.

Have the models struggled more this year ? Hard to quantify that answer but there has been some unexpected twists and turns this winter and hardly any of them have been good. The big problem has been the powerful El Nino which is causing anomalies in the way the atmosphere is behaving particularly across southern latitudes of the United States. In a sentance, the jet has been more active and contains considerably more moisture and precipitation than models have been willing to resolve more than 5 days out.  There is a feedback associated with the maturation of all weather systems that involves the presence of moisture. More moisture means more latent-heat release which drops air pressure which deepens storms until they reach a peak maturation. More moisture means faster maturation and in the case of our midweek system this is especially bad. The storm appears as if it wants to mature quicker and one of many effects means that it will suck more warm air from the Atlantic while making an early and quite unfortunate northward turn. When the European Ensemble shifted the track of the storm from just west of Boston to central New York state, the forecast had to be adjusted accordingly.

In spite of all this news, the very powerful storm may still be a net positive for Mad River Glen and the surrounding Vermont and New York state high country. We are still expecting a surge of colder air which will arrive late Monday and establish a layer of cold air that will allow precipitation to begin as sleet and snow late Wednesday. Then comes the surge of warmer air changing precipitation to what could be a lot of rain yet again late Wednesday through most of Thursday. That is if the current forecast holds and doesn't shift back to something more optimal and there is still hope for that yet hopes took a low blow today. Snow returns as the system occludes in the maritimes and there is the right combination of instability and moisture for substantial snows Friday and Friday night. A powerful clipper on Saturday February 20th would provide an additional opportunity for snow and another powder day late on the weekend.

We continue to have great support from both the PNA and developing support from the Arctic Oscillation going into early March. I know it all comes with a grain of salt given our struggles but that is the way things look for now. So, although 2016 has rained bad news more than figuratively, I highly doubt that this is the end. 

More support for a big storm next week

The potential storm next week (Feb 24th-25th) is drawing more and more attention and delegating other weather forecast details as afterthoughts. We haven't had much in the way of big material changes with this storm. Model consensus did move the track of the storm farther east on February 18th but has since shifted the track back to the west. It seems more and more likely with each passing cycle of models, that the storm next week will be a major precipitation producer but questions remain about whether or not we can keep that precipitation in the form of snow.

The snow late Friday precedes a relatively mild weekend though the above freezing temperatures will not be excessive in nature or amount to a major thaw. A wave of low pressure associated with a push of colder weather will approach by later Sunday. Though this system could continue to strengthen as it moves out over the Atlantic Ocean, the precipitation will stay well south of most of Vermont and minimal if any snow is expected late Sunday into Monday.

The midweek system is being advertise in a variety of different forms. I am basically throwing out solutions from the American GFS model which has suggested about everything imaginable while exhibiting no consistency. The current solution suggests a consolidated system which undergoes a rapid maturation process and tracks in to the eastern Great Lakes bringing minimal snow and then mostly rain to all of New England. The European Ensemble package has exhibited the most consistency and is thus more believable to the likes of myself. It is currently indicating a moisture laden but somewhat broken weather system consisting of a preliminary wave of moisture and snow Wednesday following by a truckload of moisture Thursday. The eventual main area of low pressure is indicated to track just west of Boston with limited cold air support behind the storm. The result here is a snow to sleet/ice and back to snow evolution. Canadian mean ensemble projections are also somewhat supporting this while the operational model was farther east. So, although this would not be the grand slam home run we've been looking for, it's damn good with heavy snow leading to some hefty accumulations, some sleet or ice followed by more snow later Thursday into Friday as the system occludes over the maritimes. There will be plenty of additional updates regarding this storm and we will start narrowing down accumuations in future updates. For now it would be reasonable to expect at least 6-plus inches later Wednesday and several additional inches Thursday.

Still like the looks of the pattern beyond the storm which is anchored by the positive PNA and specifically the large ridge in western North America. This shoud provide at least one additional chance for snow before the end of the month. Furthermore, we expect the pattern of favorable ski weather to continue at least into early March for the same reasons. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Possible big storm next week provides a chance for some redemption

I know there is some frustration out there with MRG sitting idle thanks to a New England-style 60 degree temperature fluctuation. It is always very easy to attribute larger scale trends in climate to anomalous weather. There is some precedent for that as well since some well respected individuals on the subject have selectively drawn some connections, especially when it comes to tropical weather activity. In my opinion however, many are guilty of going way overboard attributing anomalous weather or a singular historic event to global climate change.  Weather by definition is chaotic and there is seasonal, monthly, weekly, daily and geographical variability that trumps those larger scale trends in climate by a huge margin. There are also factors such as El Nino or the PDO which contribute to the behavior of a season and also carry more weight. I don't want to minimize the importance of global climate change as an issue. I am a big proponent of proactive action on this and many other environmental issues. That being said, El Nino and piss poor luck has been the biggest determinant.

With that out of the way, we have two potentially very exciting weeks of weather ahead of us. Warm weather will make another push at us this weekend and temperatures will creep above freezing by a few degrees Saturday. This after some snow Friday night as a weather system well to our north provides us with a nice overrunning boundary. Accumulations will only be on the order of a few inches and some of that will turn rather wet on Saturday with the warmer temperatures. Temperatures will hover around the freezing mark on Sunday with additional snow showers. There is a weather system that will approach later Sunday that will try and focus some of that precipitation somewhere but there is some disagreement on the "where".  None of this is really that significant compared to the power of next week's potential weather (and yes that sounded dangerously close to a line from the original Star Wars).

Next week's potential monster storm (Wednesday into Thursday Feb 24th and 25th) is one of the benefits of El Nino and none of those benefits have done MRG any real favors this year. Another big southern streamer gets organized early next week and seems destined to explode somewhere along the Atlantic coast and ride north along the frontside of an amplifying east coast jet stream. There are a lot of things to like about this system including the possibility of heavy snow and multiple days of powder thanks to a possible maritime occlusion later in the week. There are also risks with this storm. The recent American GFS model did take the system way too far west for our liking with the result thus being less snow and more non-snow. As of now however there has been some healthy support from the various ensemble means for a big hit. I can hear that "here we go again" from the other side of this computer but to quantify, we have never had this kind of support for a big storm. We have had possibilities and the blog has discussed all those possibilities and we have more or less struck out on most of our possibilities.

We also have every reason to believe that the generally favorable pattern will continue thanks to a weakened jet in the Pacific and a large ridge over western Canada. More on that in the coming days.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

No escaping a period of rain Tuesday but an improved outlook follows that

Hope everyone out there is staying warm either on the slopes or off them. We are in one of those classic New England very changeable weather situations. A direct attack from a polar vortex leading to the coldest weather of the winter season early on Sunday and then above freezing temperatures along with a period of rain on Tuesday. Only in New England can weather run the gamut quite like that.

Tuesday's storm will have some snow as well. Most of this comes Monday night after a relatively calm and not as chilly of a holiday. Accumulations will be in the 3-4 inch range by first tracks time Tuesday but by that time, precipitation will become freezing rain. By early afternoon, temperatures across a good part of the mountain will rise above freezing thus allowing for a period of plain rain. Sorry, but there is no escaping it. There is very clear indications that there will be some rapid warming of the lowest 5000 feet of the atmosphere Tuesday followed by rapid cooling Tuesday night. A brief period of snow is possible very early Wednesday followed by additional snow showers during the day and into Wednesday. Some additional accumulations are possible during this period between early Wednesday and midday Thursday and after it's all over, we should have a rather consolidated base with a few inches of powder on top.

The bad news for Tuesday swallows somewhat easier when looking at the newest projections for Feb 20th to 22nd. The potential warmth doesn't have nearly as much potential and should get mostly thwarted. Latest medium range operational models are also indicating overrunning snows that could amount to some significance on Saturday as the warm air tries but mostly fails to work it's way back into interior New England. Temperatures could still creep above freezing for a day (perhaps Sunday) but this appears to be a less and less important part of the outlook for the rest of February.

The last week of February continues to look on the chilly side with opportunities for snow on at least two occasions. A big burst in the PNA index is the main culprit for this and the favorable pattern has a good change of stretching into early March as well.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Tuesday storm remains a close call but we remain on the wrong side of this for now

Terrain enhancement hit MRG in a massive way over the last couple of days and the mountain is back to its somewhat more usual February self. This type of event was perhaps the one missing item from the winter last year and since we have missed about every storm this winter, it has been one of our only sources of snow so far. A polar disturbance associated with the "attack of the PV" will bring snow showers and snow squalls back to the region early on Saturday. It will windy and bitterly cold but  it will snow a bit and accumulations will range between 2-5 inches. I've discussed temperatures a few times and you've seen the forecasts which really haven't changes too much over the past few days. It will probably be close to -10 by late in the ski day Saturday and close to -20 early Sunday before rebounding to near zero. No snow is expected on President's day but we should see an increase in high clouds from the approaching Tuesday/Wednesday storm and temperatures will climb back toward the high teens.

We have another few rounds of additional data regarding the Tuesday/Wednesday storm. Some encouraging news came in the data released as of midday Friday but this remains a less than optimal situation unless we get some additional changes. This particular storm will start in rather innocuous fashion before getting "juiced up" along the gulf coast on Monday. After that the storm proceeds up the eastern seaboard, eventually turning due north or just east of due north. Snowfall for us depends on the longitudinal (east/west) position of this storm. The European and its ensembles take the storm over Albany which would be a crusher for us. We'd get some snow early Tuesday but this would go to ice and ultimately plain rain for a time. Some minimal snowfall would then fall on the back side of this system on Wednesday. One could look at this event as a "base anchoring" type of scenario but I would prefer this in December not in mid February.

The "Euro" scenario is not etched in stone yet however. The latest American model is about 100 miles further east verses the Euro and the new Canadian is about 50 miles east of that. Every single mile is critical here. The Canadian for instance is suggesting a sizable mostly snow event and though the American GFS is still indicating some ice and perhaps a small period of rain, precipitation would turn to snow and accumulate substantially by midday Wednesday. The morale of all this - move this storm farther east.

A less intense surge of arctic chill arrives by Thursday and grips Vermont through Friday. We then contend with another warm surge but much of this I think will get thwarted. In fact, there are a few suggestions of overrrunning snow either Friday or early Saturday. In the end I do think the mountain gets a day of above freezing temperatures either Saturday or Sunday but this will have a quick end. The pattern beyond that appears to be anchored by a beautiful looking ridge in the jet stream across western North America. This will mean cold weather and another good window for snow during our last week of February and perhaps into early March.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Some decent snow over the next 3 days, a storm to watch next week and some very cold weather in between

Looks a bit like winter again and were it not for the repeated misses this winter, no one would be complaining about what is a decently snowy week. We missed the best snow with the southern stream coastal bomb but the atmosphere is destabilizing as of late Tuesday and this should continue into early Wednesday. Projected atmospheric profiles through early Thursday shows a near ideal situation for terrain enhanced snow including both of the key ingredients; low level instability and moisture. Brian up at the mid-station posted his facebook page that it would take about 8 inches to get the mountain where we need it to be. I would have considered that a stretch a few days ago but I think 6-12 inches is a completely reasonable expectation during the period beginning Tuesday night and ending Thursday morning. If things break just right, accumulations could exceed a foot. Lets just cross our fingers and keep expectations in check for now.

The polar vortex still has its sights on Vermont this weekend. It will drop over New York state Friday and move right over Vermont on Saturday. In front of the PV is a clipper system with some limited moisture  Snow from this system could arrive by late in the ski day Friday. Snow from this will be on the light side but could get briefly squally early Saturday before the full onslaught of cold weather arrives by midday. This is by far and away the coldest outbreak of weather this season and the chill will be accompanied by strong northwest winds Saturday. Temperatures will start out near zero and may end the day Saturday closer to -10. By Sunday morning, temperatures could be -20 and potentially lower in a few locations. If there was more ice on the Great Lakes and a greater expanse of snow cover across New York State, New England and Quebec, this air mass would set records but will probably fall just short because of the lack of all these things. Sunshine will help boost temperatures up above zero Sunday and the moderation will continue into Monday.

I don't want to "doom and gloom" the next week outlook but I am nervous and want to convey that here. Temperatures should stay sub freezing and we should feel the impact of an "El Nino" fueled southern stream system that will ride up the coast in the Tuesday/Wednesday time frame. This storm was visible on the ensembles 5 days ago and the impact is a virtual certainty at this point. We have very cold air in place but it will be growing stale by Tuesday as the storm pushes it's moisture toward New England. Some accumulating snow is likely but there are some indications now that this might turn into a major ice event for New England rather than snow. It's not certain this will occur but a possibility as of now. If the track of this storm can remain to the regions south, than precipitation will remain in the form of snow.

Another weaker surge of cold weather follows for Wednesday and Thursday. All of the ensembles are showing a push of warmer temperatures that begins around February 19th and ends quickly around February 21st. I am not sure what the end result of all that will be. At worst we get 1-2 above freezing days plus a rain event and at best the warm push is thwarted before reaching northern New England and it stays generally cloudy and maybe one of the days features some snow (this was actually shown on one operational model today).  The rest of the month after February 21st looks pretty good thanks to the development of another large ridge in western North America boosting the PNA way up over the zero line.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Polar Vortex take dead aim at Vermont this holiday weekend bringing with it brutal cold after some limited snows this week

In spite of the expected disappointment regarding the outcome with our once promising  storm this week, the mountain will be in the firm grasp of winter for at least the next 10 days and I am beginning to think most of the duration of February. The term "Polar Vortex" hasn't gotten too much mention on the blog so far this year. New England has been one of the mildest places in the U.S. relative to average through the first half of this winter and now beyond. This trend will get shattered during the holiday weekend as a very impressive looking PV will take dead aim at Vermont, dropping straight into interior New England early Saturday and bringing with it by far the coldest air of the season.

Big southern streamer is keeping forecasters in Boston busy yet again. Like all the other storms this season, this one will track far enough off the coast Monday to keep Vermont out of the significant snow but close enough to keep southeast New England in play for both accumulating snow and in this case wind. Blizzard warnings have actually been issued for the Cape for all those reasons. Snow will actually expand into Vermont for a time Monday evening into early Tuesday thanks to a general area of deformation but models are confining snowfall amounts to the 2-5 inch range for most of the state including the high country. The rest of Tuesday into early Wednesday should be free of precipitation since most of the snow will be confined to areas well south of New England. The better dynamics with this big upcoming polar branch disturbance will be further south and Vermont again misses the best snow as a result. We will ultimately see some additional snow later Wednesday into early Thursday as the atmosphere finally destabilizes enough to allow for a period of terrain enhanced snows. With some luck (vocabulary that is totally foreign to Vermont this winter) we could see some decent accumulations in the high country by later Thursday (3-6 inches) but I am hesitant to get too optimistic.

We get a preliminary taste of the chill late this week with temperatures cooling to the teens Thursday and single numbers Friday. The PV attack will be marked by a weak clipper system that should bring a small accumulation of snow late Friday. Most of what it will bring is bone chilling cold weather. Saturday's temps will struggle to eclipse the zero degree mark (-18 C). Sunday's temps may reach 10 thanks to some February sunshine but only after readings of near 20 below during the morning.

The cold will continue to moderate throughout the holiday week and there are glaring indications of another potential storm sometime in the February 16th-17th time frame. This should be another El Nino product that will arrive as the pattern and jet relax. Lots of questions regarding track and timing. My optimistic nature and fair assessment of the weather map tells me that enough cold air will remain present to keep precipitation frozen but I take nothing for granted this winter.

The pattern appears a little adverse thanks to a jet tightening in the Pacific and a weakened ridge in western North America between the 19th and 21st of the month but this appears very short lived. The MJO which we discussed in the last update should encourage a weakening in the strength of the jet in the Pacific. This should help to keep New England on the wintry side during most of the rest of February and provide another window for decent snowfall.

Friday, February 5, 2016

In one year northern New England has gone from near first to worst as far as best places for winter weather

Even surprise coastal storms find a way to miss the 2016 snow hole that is Vermont. Granted I have been guilty of painting the picture with an optimistic brush sometimes but I can't deny the ugly winter scene that currently exists as of early February. Another missed storm brings snow totals to near normal for the season in places like Philadelphia and NYC while most places in Vermont aren't even at 25 percent of normal. It's colder finally and some snow is in the forecast over the next week and the outlook appears a bit better during the holiday week. All that said, I share the collective impatience and frustration that skiers and riders have felt this year. It has been a horrendous year so far and a once very promising looking storm early next week appears to be falling apart in a disorganized, disheveled mess.

Even a once somewhat promising looking clipper will seemingly bounce off the proverbial Vermont snow shield. We could see a little snow Saturday night but accumulations will be on the order of an inch or two if that.  The Tuesday/Wednesday system looks like this. There is a formidable southern branch system that will move off the Atlantic Coast Sunday while a dynamic polar branch storm begins moving toward the Great Lakes. These two systems are simply one day out of step with one another. The moist southern streamer will move too far offshore to have a significant impact on the northeast. What the storm will do is to carve out a nice jet trough which will help to suck the dynamic polar energy into its wake. Much of the moisture will thus be kept out of New England even from this potent clipper that seemed to have every inclination of bombing. Most of the moisture might miss but not all. A period of snowfall Monday night is possible as a nice deformation area becomes established over New England in between the two systems. Though much of Tuesday and Tuesday night could turn out to be frustratingly snow-free, instability should put the terrain enhanced snow machine into action for a time with accumulating snow beginning Wednesday and persisting through Thursday. This weather system is simply not going to be the messiah of winter storms that we so desperately need. Over the 4 days between Monday and Thursday, the mountain should see 5-10 inches but I was certainly hopeful for considerably more.

There does appear to be some sort of weather system, perhaps a clipper/pacific hybrid type system that will mark the advance of another surge of very cold weather. This airmass appears to be one of the strongest of the season so far as intensity of the chill is concerned. It's somewhat difficult as of now to determine how much snow might fall before this cold arrives over the holiday weekend but there is some potential for a few more needed inches late Friday or early Saturday.

Some of the ensemble runs a few days were painting a very dreary picture later in February by re-tightening the jet stream in the Pacific. Just in the last 24 hours however the long range ensemble data have dramatically backed off some of those milder scenarios for eastern North America. This change has a lot to do with the evolving MJO projections which are now forecast to be substantially more favorable in two weeks verses the projections earlier this week. Since we maintain the support of the arctic oscillation I am substantially more confident that we remain cold through the holiday week. Normally I would anticipate plenty of snow to go along with this pattern except for this hideous snow shield which has spat on us all season. It is very much time for that to stop.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Snow next week, question is how much ?

It's an ugly scene right now across much of Vermont. Not a lot of snow on the ground, above freezing temperatures with rain falling is a nightmare gone bad as far as I am concerned. Winter returns to Vermont by late Thursday but new snow won't arrive until very late on Saturday, probably after the ski day is done. This is not much of a weather system Saturday but the limited amounts of moisture will be enough to produce a few inches by Sunday morning. Any new snow is great but our focus by Sunday will shift to a potentially bigger system.

We have considerably more clarity today regarding what should be an interesting week of weather. Another notable southern streamer will begin making a turn up the Atlantic Coast on Sunday while a vigorous clipper system advances southeast out of the western provinces of Canada. These two storms are about a day out of phase unfortunately and are not expected to combine forces at any time. The clipper system is capable of enough of providing its own fireworks. It should make use of the relative warmth in the Atlantic Ocean and deepen, becoming a fully mature nor'easter by Tuesday. Snow should impact a large portion of the northeast by Tuesday and continue to impact all of New England in some fashion on Wednesday. A healthy pool of instability should allow terrain enhanced snow to continue through much of Wednesday. Accumulations from this system are yet to be determined. The strength and ultimate track of this storm remain a question but given the position of the jet ridge in western North America, Vermont is in a good position to be a snowy beneficiary of whatever evolves out of the Tuesday/Wednesday storm.

Though this appears to be a colder period across much of eastern North America, temperatures will remain close to seasonable levels in Vermont (classic El Nino) in the 7 days beginning this Saturday and persisting through the President's Day holiday. In the wake of the midweek storm, another potentially potent clipper system could add to the new snowfall on Friday and bring with it a blast of below normal temperatures for the early part of the holiday weekend. This cold is then expected to recede by President's Day itself and temperatures again may turn above normal after February 15th.

The jet stream is again expected to tighten in the Pacific pushing the EPO back into positive, adverse territory. This is not an encouraging development for the back half of February but yet again we will keep the AO as an ally and this might help to thwart the adverse impacts of a more energetic jet in the Pacific.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Ice and Rain Wednesday but is potential snow just a week away ?

No good news regarding our potentially wet and rainy Wednesday. Models have actually moved the track of this storm farther north the last few days and the result will be a shorter period of ice and a longer period of rain. The freezing rain should begin around daybreak and change to plain rain within a few hours. Temperatures will inch close to the 40 degree mark later in the day. It's about half an inch of liquid precipitation in total and most of it should be over by the evening. By late Thursday morning most of the mountain should be back below freezing and down into the teens by Friday morning.

A much more productive weather pattern takes over as advertised on Friday. Models have been hinting at varying degrees cold and storminess in the 10 day stretch beginning on Friday but I expect it to be one of the better weeks for snow this season. The first new snow comes Saturday from a weaker clipper system. There were a few indications that this storm might ultimately become more than a weak clipper off the Atlantic coast but those indications have gone away as of Monday morning.

What has been relatively consistent is the indications of a much more organized precipitation producer in the Tuesday the 9th/Wednesday the 10th time frame. Lot of polar jet energy will diving south out of Canada fueling the potential rise of a big east coast system. There are phasing questions relating to this system but it would be hard to doubt the presence of southern branch jet energy and moisture. Potential phasing is a question of timing and the relative positions of both colliding branches of the jet. I put the chances of something rather significant happening pretty high (65 %) given the proximity of the two disturbances in question. It's just a matter of "when" and what the evolving storm will do as a result of the "when" question.

Terrain enhanced powder from any such midweek storm would continue into Thursday as a blast of cold air envelops New England. The cold should continue to dominate through the President's Day holiday and there are indications that yet another storm could bring its potential snowfall to the mountain in that time frame. The cold may recede somewhat during the week following President's Day as PNA support for colder weather vanishes. The AO should remain at least weekly negative thwarting any potential big thaw.